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WOMAN'S  LIFE                      147

prepared for the responsibilities of wifehood and mother-

In educated families the girls learned also to read and to
write. There have always been talented women in China, and
to-day there are over half a dozen women authors who have
achieved a more or less national reputation. Many celebrated
educated women were known in the Han Dynasty, and later
in the Wei and Ch'in Dynasties. One of these women was
Hsieh Taoytin, who, as a conversationalist, often saved her
brother-in-law from the verbal attacks of his guests. Literacy
was limited in China, for men and for women, but scholars*
families always taught their daughters to read and to write.
The content of this literary education was necessarily limited
to literature, poetry, history and human wisdom, as absorbed
from the Confucian classics. The girls stopped there, but really
the men did not advance very much further. Literature,
history, philosophy and the wisdom of life, together with some
special knowledge of medicine or the rules of government, were
the sum of human knowledge. The education of women was
still 'more definitely humanistic. The difference was in
intensiveness rather than in scope.

For, reversing Pope's dictum, the Chinese held that "too
much learning was a dangerous thing for women's virtue." In
painting and in poetry they often played a hand, for the writing
of short lyrics seemed especially suitable to women's genius.
These poems were short, dainty and exquisite, not powerful.
Li Ch'ingchao (1081-1141?), the greatest poetess of China, left
a handful of immortal, imperishable verse, full of the sentiment
of rainy nights and recaptured happiness. The tradition of
woman's poetry has been practically unbroken, until in Manchu
times we can count almost a thousand women who left poetry
in print in this dynasty alone. Under the influence of Yuan
Mei, the man who was against footbinding, a mode was set
up for women to write poetry, which was greatly deprecated
by another outstanding scholar, Chang Shihtsai, as being
detrimental to the sound ideal of womanhood. But writing
poetry did not really interfere with women's duties as wife and
mother, and Li Ch'ingchao was an ideal wife. She was no